As a chairman of a major political party, you’re not supposed to suffer from foot-in-mouth disease. You’re not supposed to predict defeat for your candidates. You’re not supposed to write books purporting to make party policy while criticizing the party’s past on the party’s time. You’re not supposed to say that members of your party are afraid of you.
And you’re definitely not supposed to tell the members to “shut up.”
For all his positive qualities, and he’s not without some of those, Michael Steele has had an “interesting” past several months as chairman of the Republican National Committee. Little surprise, then, that a new site devoted to his ouster as the party’s lead dog has sprung up from the ether.
Baton Rouge blogger and Republican state committee member Ryan Booth, whose writings can be found at TheHayride.com, debuted DumpSteele.com this week. It’s a site devoted to a devastating indictment of Steele’s performance atop the RNC, an ongoing chronicle of his foibles, a strategy for removing Steele from his job and a full disclosure of the site’s origins and backing.
On the latter, Booth takes great pains to make clear this is not a front for some insidious conspiracy by those Steele beat for the RNC chair position last year. He was a supporter of former Ohio secretary of state Ken Blackwell for the job in last year’s voting, but would prefer someone with a national profile, like Sarah Palin or Fred Thompson, to replace Steele. It’s an outsider’s crusade – something conservatives frustrated with the GOP’s inability to fuse a coalition with the Tea Party movement have been pining for while watching unremarkable fundraising numbers and the lack of a clear message coming out of the party in the past year.
Booth says the key to Steele’s ouster is gaining the support of the 168 RNC members, specifically the 112 (two-thirds) necessary to carry such a motion. Every state and territory has three – the state chairman, committeeman and committeewoman. He’ll be posting the names of each RNC member who publicly supports Steele’s removal on the site and contact information for each member in the coming days, while asking readers to contact the members from their state and asking that something be done to change the leadership at the top.
The RNC has four meetings a year, with the Winter Meeting being held Jan. 25 in Honolulu. That meeting isn’t expected to go well for Steele regardless of Dumpsteele.com’s existence. The members are expected to vote on a motion calling for Steele to end the book tour he’s begun in support of his book “Right Now: A 12-Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda.” Steele is under a torrent of criticism from past RNC chairmen for what they see as his using his position for undue personal financial gain, a criticism Booth echoes, and his supporters on the RNC have attempted to defend the outspoken chairman by alleging that legendary RNC chairman and current Mississippi governor Haley Barbour also wrote a book during his time leading the party. Problem is, Barbour’s book was written on behalf of the National Policy Forum, a think tank he helped found, and all the proceeds of its sale were donated back to the group.
The site makes a very strong case for Steele’s ouster, and it’s a compelling read. It’s not something Steele wants anybody to see, particularly if he expects his fellow Republicans to “shut up.”